This summer I worked for Assisting Hands Home Care in Columbus. My primary activities included working with their sales team to update their CRM system, craft social media posts, create regular newsletters, and work with clients to ensure their care needs were being met. I also spent much time working with employees to make sure their HR paperwork was properly completed.
The biggest change that took place in my point of view of the world while working for Assisting Hands was with the people I interacted with. There is an interesting dynamic in the Home Care industry where most workers are African American women and most clients are wealthy white people. It’s interesting to see the dynamics between the two groups and to see the differences in culture. Coming from a middle-class white family, I had never interacted really interacted with many African Americans. I saw the issues that members of this group face daily.
Many of the women working for Assisting Hands were single mothers. This combined with their lack of financial resources meant they had trouble getting to work. Firstly, they often had car troubles. Their cars were often not very quality, so they would break down occasionally. When their car broke down they couldn’t go to work which meant they couldn’t pay to get their car fixed since they often didn’t have any savings. Some workers didn’t even have cars, so they had to rely on friends to drive them to work every day. There was also the issue that they couldn’t pay for childcare.
For a specific example, my co-worker’s (who worked in the office but was still an underpaid single mom) car broke down halfway through the summer. She was unable to afford to get it repaired, but fortunately she had a neighbor who was a mechanic that fixed it for free. She was later able to get connected to a service that lends cars to single moms who need transportation for work while their car is getting repaired. My other co worker whose husband is a car salesman was eventually able to get her a good deal on a reliable car. For anyone in my family a car breaking down is an annoyance, but this showed me how there are many things that are annoyances for me that can seriously disrupt other peoples lives.
These issues related more directly to my job because I oversaw making sure the employees got a TB test. If you don’t already know, you need to get a TB test done one day and have it read within two to three days. This is required by the state for all home care workers, but is a burdensome regulation to many. Since few places offer this test out of regular business hours many must take off work to get it. It’s also difficult because the cost of the test is also burdensome since many of these women make not much above minimum wage.
While I received some professional development in my internship, I was surprised to realize that my biggest takeaway from the role was the social issues I learned about. After graduation I’ll be going into the peace corps helping women and minorities start small businesses, and hopefully working in government or politics after that. The lesson that there are many people I not only don’t understand but don’t know I don’t understand is one that I will be able to take with me in my future career. I now know I need to work harder to understand the struggle of those around me. This is something I got a taste of at Assisting Hands, and will have many more opportunities to develop in future.